Tag: China

In southern China there is a soup made with winter melon – Italian Cuisine

In southern China and Hong Kong it is traditional to eat a particular winter soup whose main ingredient is winter melon

If for us Westerners the idea of ​​having fruit among the main ingredients of a hot winter soup may seem unusual, in Chinese cuisine the combination of soup and sweet flavors it is an established habit, so much so that some of these recipes are real desserts. Between traditional soups more characteristics and representative of the south of China a particular preparation based on stands out winter melon (dong gua). There are more or less rich versions of this dish, depending on whether it is cooked at home as a popular food and comfort food, or whether it is part of the banquet and ceremonial menu, as well as more modern and revisited versions. So let's discover the characteristics of the classic variant, from the properties to the most used ingredients.

The recipe for winter melon soup and some of its variations

The home-made and poor version of this recipe includes a few simple ingredients, all commonly used in China. In addition to the winter melon, the other main ingredient is pork meat and, more precisely, the hock, or the end of the shin bone. More modern variants involve the use of pork ribs, meatballs, Chinese ham or chicken instead. For the broth, on the other hand, various ingredients and aromas are generally used, including ginger, dried tangerine peel and Chinese dates. To prepare the soup, simply pour all the ingredients into a large pot full of water, adding the last cubes of winter melon, and let it boil for about two hours. The soup is then served in a bowl, with or without the piece of meat or bone. This dish can also be eaten in summer at room temperature, as a tasty, thirst-quenching and refreshing remedy for the heat. In modern Chinese cuisine and in restaurant menus, winter melon soup it is often enriched with other ingredients, including carrots, shiitake mushrooms, dried shrimp or anchovies, crabmeat, lotus seeds, and kombu seaweed.

The winter melon: sweet, nutritious and low-calorie fruit

As we have seen, the main ingredient of this soup is the winter melon, also called yellow or winter melon. Characterized by an elongated shape, a rather smooth yellow skin and a light and sugary pulp whose consistency recalls that of melon, this melon is harvested in summer but, as the name suggests, it can be kept until December / January. Bringing this fruit to the table during the colder months means not only being able to appreciate its pleasant summer aroma out of season, but also benefiting from its beneficial and nutritional properties. The winter melon is in fact low-calorie (less than 30 calories for about 100 grams), as it consists of over 90% water, and is also a good source of iron, calcium, phosphorus, B vitamins and antioxidants. . The Asian variety of this fruit has a very thin green skin, e it is used both in Chinese cuisine in addition to soups and fried foods, both in the Traditional Chinese Medicine as a natural diuretic, laxative and to regulate blood pressure and metabolism.

Photo: Chinese winter melon soup_500_Pixabay.
Photo: Chinese winter melon soup Wintermelonsoup 800_Wikimedia commons.jpg.

Hot pot trend: the fire pot from China to Milan – Italian Cuisine

The years pass and the trends change, from the boom bao to the ravioli jiao, now in Milan the Chinese hot pot arrives, the winter comfort food not to be missed

If in the West the hot pot is the new food trend, in China actually has very ancient origins. Since man has had a fire-resistant container in which to cook his food, through the simple and effective cooking technique of boiling, we can speak of hot pot, or rather huǒguō 火锅 , literally a pot of fire, where huǒ 火 is fire and guō 锅 pot. A traditionally copper pot, placed in the center of the table, to be shared with friends and relatives, in which to cook fish, meat or vegetables completely immersed in boiling and mumbling broths, fed by a continuous flame while supplies last.

This is the pot of fire, don't call it Chinese fondue

Having ascertained that in China thehot pot takes the name of fire potwhy cripple this symbolic and intuitive name in an appellation that has no sense of existing in this context? Do you want to confuse ideas? We try to clarify and give the right names to things. The word fondue it has French origins and the donkey already falls here, then if we really wanted to denaturalise the clarity that underlies the writing and the Chinese language, we might as well call it Chinese fondue and no Chinese fondue, so at least we don't snobbish and talk like we eat, Italian. It goes without saying that we should then analyze the word "fondue" (Piedmontese dish consisting of a thick cream obtained by melting fontina cheese in a bain-marie, mixed with cream and egg yolks) says the Treccani dictionary. And here comes another inconsistency since in the fire pot there is no presence of cheeseindeed it is known that in China cheese does not exist and is not consumed, they only eat tofu. And if they drink milk, it is soy or from other cereals or legumes, but it certainly does not contain lactose, a bomb of active ferments ready to explode in the stomachs of the Chinese, not used to it. If we want to make the picky ones the fondue involves the cooking technique in a bain marie, and only later, to keep the fondue constantly creamy, the cauqelon (the pot used for the fondue) is placed on a special iron structure with a candle lit at the bottom, but nothing to do with the living flame of the fire that burns under the copper pot and in the hearts of the Chinese when they think of the huǒguō 火锅.

The republic of the pot

«He is eighty-six years old, she eighty-five. He is her old husband, and she is his old wife. For a lifetime he has been behind her and her character, to her who takes care of the house and to her whims, who combines her clothes and on New Year's Eve she polishes the four valuables they have at home: a pair of bowls, two pairs of silver chopsticks and a copper fire pot …

They like the fire pot, which then brought them together. In the fifties of the last century, when they were young, they went to Donglaishun restaurant on weekends. At the time, there was the "republic of the pot", to the delight of young people of marriageable age, male and female. In practice, people shared the pot, including broth, without knowing each other. Inside it was divided into small sectors, a bit like today's offices. Each had his own, where he dipped the mutton and the ordered dishes. The cost of the broth and the table was divided according to the number of people. Practical and economic …

The "republic of the pot" created a festive atmosphere of harmony and conviviality …
(Adapted from Huoguo, Tie Ning – The fire pot, translation Silvia Pozzi).

My republic of the pot I lived it in the autumn-winter between 2016 and 2017, the semester in which I lived the most beautiful experience of my life, in China of course. In southern China, in Guìyáng 贵阳 (capital of the province of Guizhou), precisely in the district of Huāxī 花溪 区 , just outside the dormitory. Here I was able to experience the real China, the rural one, of the farmers with their panniers on their shoulders and the street vendors, with a cart to be rescued at the passage of bulky vehicles and to be towed home. China of small yuan restaurants and self-share fire pot. Self because everyone is given a tray on which to place the desired dishes, in this way quantity and quality are before your eyes, just like in a self service. But super share as the choice of broth is made in common agreement with the companions of the pot (usually two types, one of meat Ròu tāng 肉汤 and one of vegetables 蔬菜 汤 Shūcài tāng).

There is no limit to sharing, the friends around the huoguo can also be 5 or 6, but be careful not to overdo the invitations otherwise you may find yourself juggling with battles of chopsticks at the last trick.

A real treasure hunt, a bit like finding a needle in a haystack, or rather the Chinese "like fishing a needle in the sea" jiù xiàng zài hǎilǐ lāo zhēn yīyàng 就像 在 海里 捞 针 一样. So be careful not to dip all the spoils of your trays in one go and to cook the ingredients a few at a time to facilitate the operation catch the gruel. Certainly it is not a dish for those who are beginners with chopsticks, but you can always count on the shrewd friends who will be happy to recover some piece of meat, fish or vegetables, to accompany an inexpensive pebble of white rice bái mǐfàn白 米饭.

That's how I met some of the first Chinese friends on campus, sharing a traditional fire pot. I still remember my first huoguo, it was one evening in late October and it was still not too cold in Guiyang. So the restaurants just outside the dormitory still offered the dinner under the stars option, with colored plastic stools and tables equipped to host Spartan Hot Pots. From that evening onwards when the numbness of the cold crept into the bones, it was enough to take courage go down 7 floors of the dormitory and do not think about returning (another 7 flights of stairs without a lift to do), for a comfortable warm dinner this and more. The broth that bubbled, the smoke that rose and that like a fog bank did not allow you to see beyond the fumera the friend in front of you. The fogged glasses, and the tongue burnt with heat, this for me is the taste of China, this is the pot of fire.

Where to eat the fire pot in Milan

Starting from the beating heart of the Milanese chinatown, we populate two addresses in the Paolo Sarpi area:

Little Lamb (two rooms, one in Paolo Sarpi 8 and the other in via Bernina 43, Maciachini area) entirely dedicated to the traditional Chinese hot pot, with tables equipped to host steaming pots of fire. Disposable placemat menu on which to tick your choices, 10 different broths and a selection of meats, fish, vegetables, mushrooms, tofu, meatballs, skewers, rice, spaghetti and sauces.

168 Chinese Township (viale Jenner 29, Maciachini area) majestic restaurant structured in several rooms, one of which is entirely dedicated to the hot pot. Technological order with tablet, 8 broths on the list and a large variety of fish, meat, offal, tofu, vegetables, rice and pasta to accompany and dip in the broths.

Ba Hot Pot (viale Certosa 32) here the pot of fire is the protagonist of the scene, several broths to choose from and numerous alternatives of meat, fish and vegetables and some more risky proposals such as duck black pudding.

Carnivore Union (two rooms, one in via Padova 26 and the other in viale Nazario Sauro 5) perhaps one of the first restaurants to offer the hot pot in Milan, the first address in via Padova has tables set up for the fire pot, while the one in the Zara area has free tables on which to place spartan electric hotplates for the hot pot, a more practical but certainly less suggestive solution. As for the choice of delicious broths and many delicacies, in addition to the classic slices of meat, fish and vegetables, skewers, ravioli, pickled vegetables, udon, fried rice and for the most daring dishes such as lamb kidney and beef tendon.

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China: a healthy future based on vegetable proteins – Italian Cuisine

China: a healthy future based on vegetable proteins

To combat obesity, China aims to reduce meat consumption by promoting new alternative, healthy and vegetable foods, to be integrated into the diet by 2030

When we talk about obesity in the world, our thoughts go immediately to the United States and the American people, notoriously dominated by a diet rich in fat and junk food that is not very balanced. No coincidence that it is the country with the most obese adults in the world, as many as 79 million. Few know, however, that on the front ofchildhood obesity America actually wins second place while the former goes unexpectedly China, a country that in the Western imagination is often associated with a light and low calorie diet. Consider that instead the obese Chinese children are 15 million and that by 2015, the estimated obese adults were 57 million.
The Chinese government has recently decided to take serious measures regarding the food sector to stem this worrying growth, and not only that. In particular, in collaboration with China's first food technology accelerator Bits x Bites, which is investing in various international startups, has issued dietary guidelines that aim to reduce national meat consumption by 50% by 2030 and the introduction of innovative, sustainable and healthy food alternatives. The trigger of this initiative is not really only childhood obesity, but also all the problems concerning the Chinese meat industry.
In addition to the problems of food security (animal diseases) and health problems (antibiotics and hormones) linked to the industrial production of meat, there are fears that there are not enough arable land to feed the growing population or enough land to house the farms.
Let's go then to find out what the alternative protein sources will be for a healthier future.

Alternatives to soy

Although soy milk, in China as in other countries, is one of the most famous and popular vegetable drinks, in the last few years interesting alternatives are taking hold. Among the many China has decided to invest in pea milk, already widespread and appreciated in the United States, the mung bean one and the chickpea one.

Silkworm snacks

For years we have been talking about the importance of insects as a precious source of protein and with a low environmental impact as an alternative to meat. In China, an insect-loving country known forbreeding of silkworms (about 500 thousand tons a year), the government has decided to invest in a company that turns flour silkworm scraps into powder into flour, to then process this flour and produce salty snacks. This snacks, which will contain about 20% of proteins, will soon be launched on the market and already bets on its commercial success.

Synthetic meat, produced in the laboratory

The synthetic meat produced by in vitro cultivation from animal cells has become a worldwide trend, above all thanks to Beyond Meat, the American company of the famous Impossible Burger. China has decided to follow in its footsteps and invest in an Israeli company called Future Meat Technologies that produces precisely meat grown in the laboratory, non-GMO, naturally free of hormones and antibiotics and produced using a fermentation silo. The goal is to see a food product based on cellular meat to be launched on the market as soon as possible.

A bowl of a salad bowl to drink

A final investment concerns a company called Fruggie, which intends to promote a new concept of "drinkable" salad. The reason behind the development of this product, which for us Westerners may appear to be bizarre, is that the Chinese mostly love hot and cooked foods, while they are rather reluctant to eat raw vegetables and, indeed, salads. The company has therefore decided to mix together ten classic ingredients, including lettuce, avocado and chickpeas, reducing them to drink. This drink is currently only available in some parts of China.

Photo: synthetic china meat diet sana_Wikipedia_World Economic Forum.png
Photo: alternative soy milk peas in Cina_Pixabay_falovelykids.jpg
Photo: silkworm silkworms vegetable proteins cina_Pixabay.jpg

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